What is the overall mood or tone of "Harrison Bergeron"?

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The overall tone of "Harrison Bergeron" can be described as detached and sardonic. Vonnegut reveals his contempt for legislated equality throughout the story by utilizing a sarcastic, candid tone to describe the completely uniform United States. The mood of the story changes from curious to frustrated to hopeful to despairing as the plot unfolds.

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The tone of a story refers to the author's attitude towards the subject and is conveyed through the writer's word choice and point of view. The overall tone of Vonnegut's celebrated short story "Harrison Bergeron" can be described as sarcastic, detached, and candid. Vonnegut displays a sardonic tone in the opening sentence of the story by writing that "everybody was finally equal."

Vonnegut's sardonic tone is also revealed when he writes, "It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard." By using the words "finally" and "all right," Vonnegut reveals his sarcastic view of the Constitution's stance on equality and conformity. The bleak situation should provoke outrage, but the citizens have passively accepted the harmful policies, which contributes to Vonnegut's satire and irony.

Vonnegut also seems to mock George and Hazel's argument regarding the nature of handicaps while failing to comprehend the larger issue of oppressed personal freedoms, which displays his contempt for the idea that equality can be legislated. Vonnegut also candidly describes Harrison's tragic death in a detached tone that mirrors Hazel's forgetful reaction. Vonnegut's tone not only displays his contempt for legislated equality, but also reveals his cynical view of humanity's motivation to cultivate equality.

Mood refers to the emotions and feelings a reader experiences throughout a story. Unlike the tone of a narrative, the mood of a story can change. Initially, the mood of "Harrison Bergeron" is intriguing and evokes the reader's curiosity as he/she attempts to imagine a completely uniform United States, where people are forced to wear handicaps. The mood then shifts to one of sympathy towards George and Hazel. The reader experiences empathy for the Bergerons, whose extraordinary fourteen-year-old son is in prison.

Once the news bulletin appears on the screen and Harrison takes over the station, the reader experiences a feeling of suspense and intrigue. When Harrison strips off his handicaps and chooses his empress, the mood becomes exciting and hopeful. Suddenly, Diana Moon Glampers arrives and kills Harrison and his empress, which leaves the reader feeling angry, disturbed, and upset. George and Hazel's forgetful reaction to the tragic death of their son shifts the mood to one of despair and gloom.

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While the tone of "Harrison Bergeron" is detached and sarcastic, the mood changes to reflect the reader's response to the action—it starts out curious, builds to a crescendo of excitement and hope as Harrison makes his stand, and then bursts into resigned dismay after he's stopped.

The tone of the story is reflected in the way the author writes. Kurt Vonnegut takes a detached tone in his writing, describing the situation as if it's normal—when, of course, it isn't normal for a reader. He explains that society made everyone equal by instituting handicaps that kept people from excelling in any way. It made things fair for everyone.

The sarcastic tone comes largely from the ludicrous way people have been made equal; Vonnegut doesn't directly criticize it, leaving the reader to make their own decisions. There's also a sardonic tone with the way Vonnegut writes Hazel and George. George argues against Hazel's desire for him to lighten his handicaps just a little at home—saying that it would return society to the dark ages when no one was equal.

The reader's mood starts from a place of curiosity as Vonnegut describes the society and the handicaps that George has: a loud sound that goes through an earpiece every few minutes to keep him from being able to think clearly and dozens of pounds of buckshot in a bag around his neck. His wife, Hazel, doesn't have these. Vonnegut exposes this society through George, Hazel, and their television program. The novel situation arouses curiosity in a reader—even as the reader knows this is not a healthy society.

When Harrison bursts into the room on television and disrupts the ballet, the quick action and his desire for freedom cause the reader to experience hope alongside him—which leads to excitement. The question of whether he'll change things keeps the reader excited throughout Harrison's display. The action rises when the ballerina joins him and the musicians begin to play with skill.

The reader's excitement and hope are cut short when Diana Moon Glampers comes in and quickly kills Harrison and the ballerina. Dismay is tempered with resignation when George and Hazel can no longer see what's happened, because the television tube burns out after Harrison is killed. The reader sees that nothing has changed, as even Harrison's parents forget and ignore what happened.

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Mood refers to the emotions a story evokes in the reader; tone refers to the author's attitude about the subject matter that comes through in the writing. Tone will usually remain constant in a story while the mood can change as the plot progresses.

The mood of the story begins with the reader feeling sympathetic toward the Bergerons and then frustrated by the ridiculous "handicaps" that their society forces on smart, beautiful, strong, or talented people. The mood becomes excited and suspenseful when Harrison appears, proclaims himself Emperor, and tears off his handicaps. Readers then become hopeful, and the mood changes to light and joyous during Harrison's dance with the ballerina. However, when Diana Moon Glampers shoots the two "criminals" dead, the mood becomes serious and dark. Readers feel sadness for Hazel, as she has seen the death of her son on live TV but cannot even figure out what happened. Readers may feel angry or hopeless at the end of the story when George and Hazel return to their monotonous daily routine of "equality." 

The tone Vonnegut uses in the story is resigned and sardonic. The sentence "It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard" shows an acceptance of the society the Bergerons live in. Situations that should provoke outrage are presented calmly. However, the reader can pick up on a sardonic tone; there is a sense of irony and satire behind some of the words. When Vonnegut writes, "Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers," readers understand he is mocking both Hazel and the H-G by that comparison. The vacuous conversation between George and Hazel that occurs at the end, after their 14-year-old son has just been killed, is highly ironic because the couple, or at least the narrator, should be furious about the event.

The mood in the story changes from frustration to hope to anger to despair as the plot unfolds. The tone remains resigned and satirical throughout.

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What is the tone of "Harrison Bergeron"?

The tone in "Harrison Bergeron" is casual, sarcastic, and even irreverent. 

Vonnegut tells us that everyone is "finally equal" in 2081. Yet, no one has figured out a way to control or affect the weather. The author's candid and sarcastic tone reflects his disdain for the United States' misguided campaign of equality.

Vonnegut's description of Hazel and George further exemplifies his sarcastic and irreverent tone:

Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear... Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

Here, the author's tone reinforces his contempt for the kind of equality that is fostered through a system of oppression and persecution. 

Later in the story, Hazel proclaims that she would replace the excruciatingly jarring sounds in George's ear radio with the sound of chimes if she was the Handicapper General:

If I was Diana Moon Glampers," said Hazel, I'd have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.

"I could think, if it was just chimes," said George.

George agrees with his wife. Vonnegut's farcical tone reinforces the ludicrous nature of Hazel and George's conversation. The people in America in 2081 appear to enjoy less freedoms than those from earlier centuries. Yet, Hazel and George (by way of their handicaps) fail to recognize this. Both are focused on the superficial (chimes versus dissonant sounds in ear radios), rather than the stark reality before them (the loss of democratic freedoms they once enjoyed).

Vonnegut's sarcastic and irreverent tone throughout the story demonstrates his contempt for the idea that equality can be legislated with any sort of credibility or efficacy.

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What is the tone of "Harrison Bergeron"?

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. writes this dystopian short story with a very wry, dry sense of humor in a matter-of-fact and straightforward way.  For example, take a look at the first line:  "The year was 2081 and everyone was finally equal."  That is very factual and dry, but the addition of the word "finally" is very sarcastic; it implies it was what everyone's goal was all along, and that it was indeed possible.  He writes with that same sardonic tone throughout, and it adds a feeling of humor and sad derision.  Take for example, a line soon after the one listed above:

"Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime."

He comments on that darn April, that just won't stay in line like everyone else has.  He is trying to be funny, but to express the seriousness of the actual society, because they really think that way.  It is using satire to point out the absurdity of having a society that is truly equal through artifical and enforced means.  Even though we know that April can't be tamed, he indicates that the people in the story feel it should be.  We feel a gap in perspective there, which lends itself well to the bemused tone of the piece.

So, through the use of sarcasm and black humor, and a dry, straight-forward tone, Vonnegut creates a tone of serious mocking and storytelling wit.  I hope that helps a bit; good luck!

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What is the tone of "Harrison Bergeron"?

"Harrison Bergeron" is written from third-person perspective, although there are insights into George's thoughts included in the commentary. The story presents itself as being a fairly factual and straightforward report of the dialogue between George and Hazel while they were watching television and the events that they witnessed.

However, the sarcasm and black humor contained in the commentary sets the tone for the story. This is not what any contemporary reader of the story would interpret as a normal couple spending a quiet evening relaxing at home. This is a man being tortured by devices that have been inflicted on him by the government, and they are watching others on the television who are also being severely penalized for aspects of their physical and/or mental beings that they have through no fault of their own.

Vonnegut is pointing out the absurdity of a society attempting to create artificial conditions that make all people equal by presenting his vision of what such a society might look like. He is also issuing veiled comments about the dangers of a government that has too much power to interfere with too many personal aspects of the every day lives of citizens. While presented in seemingly innocent terms, there is real frustration and concern for the future under the surface of this story.

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What is the tone in "Harrison Bergeron"?

"Harrison Bergeron" is written from a third person point of view, although readers do have insight into the thoughts of George Bergeron. Most of the narrative is presented in a very matter-of-fact vocabulary, stating the situation and events of the story as if there was nothing unusual or surprising about them.

April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

As the story continues, events unfold that seem more and more disturbing to the reader. George endures increasingly distracting sounds from his mental handicap, Hazel makes her comments about the Handicapper General and suggests that George alter the weight of his handicap bag - a truly radical and flagarant violation of the law. Through it all, the narration is unemotional and unattached.

Even at the height of the action, the narration is straightforward, with no indication of excitement in language or punctuation.

There was a shriek of a door being torn from its hinges. Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

Vonnegut wanted to convey a feeling of complete equality at all times. There were no emotions, no differences, no changes of any sort in "2081" and the tone of the story reflects that.

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